Food in Films – The Godfather Part III

I don’t even want to hear it, you Godfather III haters. I happen to think this film is an underrated masterpiece. No, it doesn’t come close to the jewels that are the first two Godfather films, but to me, The Godfather Part III it has a dark beauty and pain that makes it its own work of art.

I’m on a Godfather kick lately, probably because of the change of season. Something about the dark, cold winter makes me want to snuggle in and watch The Godfather trilogy. I think it has something to do with the colors of the films. The shades and hues are deeper, richer, more jewel-like in tone and the underlying sense of darkness in all three films goes well with the darkness of this season.

Also, I just think Andy Garcia’s performance in this film is stunning. He is the perfect embodiment of the new Don and it doesn’t hurt that he is one mighty fine piece of eye candy. I actually liked his character, Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of Sonny Corleone, better than any other in this film. He is cold, ruthless, has no problem in killing his enemies to get them out of his hair, and yet, has a soft and romantic side that you see when he falls in love with Michael’s daughter Mary (and his cousin – yikes!) and takes her under his protection.

Another reason why I also love this film is the theme of possible redemption and ultimate paying the price for the choices made in life. That is, after all, the place Michael Corleone has come to in this film. He is older, has worked to take his family out of crime and become respectable, and in the opening scenes, has just received a medal of honor and honorary title from the Pope himself. Kay, his former wife, has remarried and stays far away from him, and he’s been estranged from his children for many years. At the party celebrating his Papal honor, you see Kay, his children, his sister Connie and many other family come together to celebrate, in scenes very reminiscent of the opening of the first film when Connie gets married. Vincent and his mother Lucy Mancini – remember the scene in the first film when Sonny is banging the bridesmaid upstairs? – yup, Vincent is the result! Anyway, he’s a real tough guy, has his own criminal career on the upswing and is drop-dead gorgeous. Mary sees him and it’s love at first sight.

The film trajectory follows Michael as he tries in his own way, to make amends with his children, reconcile with Kay and, once and for all extract his family from the Mafia that controls most gambling, casinos, drugs, prostitution and other such activities. Needless to say, he doesn’t succeed. After an attempted assassination in Atlantic City where all the old-school Mafia dons are killed by an upstart Mafioso called Joey Zaza (played with a stylishly stupid menace by the wonderful Joe Mantegna), Michael reflects on the difficulty of changing his life, saying before he collapses into a diabetic coma, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Pretty much sums up The Godfather’s life.

giphy

Anyway, I personally loved the romance between Mary and Vincent. I highly doubt they are the only cousins ever to fall in love and have an affair, and in my opinion, it’s handled with tact and delicacy, because Vincent so clearly wants to protect her above all else. He loves her and is attracted to her, it’s obvious, but the protective side of him is what I found lovely and sweet. When she comes to his apartment after the attempt on her father’s life and he teaches her to make gnocchi, it was romantic and soooooooo sexy.

I sometimes wonder if this particular scene was one of the reasons I so wanted to learn to cook, in the hopes that someday I would reenact this scene with someone. Without removing any clothes or showing any nudity, that scene left no doubt that these two were going to burn the place down with their passion. So of course I had to make gnocchi!

Gnocchi, if you don’t already know this, are little dumplings seasoned with salt. Simple to make, and this method adds the flavorful twist of pumpkin, sage, butter, garlic, and ricotta cheese to create these little bundles of deliciousness.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Pinch of sea salt
Good grinding of fresh black pepper
2 eggs
1 cup flour, plus lots more for dusting
4 tablespoons salted butter
Large bunch of fresh sage leaves
1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

METHOD
Combine the ricotta cheese, the pumpkin, the garlic, the eggs, the pepper and the salt in a large bowl and mix well to combine.

Add in the flour and stir until just mixed. It’s supposed to be sticky but still workable so just go by feel.

Flour a surface or a rolling board very well, place the sticky dough on the floured surface and flour the top of the dough.

Cut the dough into quarters, then roll each quarter into a long rope shape.

Cut 1-inch dumplings from each dough rope, and using a fork, press the tines into each dumpling to give it the classic shape. The tine marks also help sauce adhere to the gnocchi dumpling. I was fortunate to have help today in the form of my friend Tina and her grandson Michael, who helped with the kneading, rolling and fork-tining. It was great fun!

Lay the dumplings on a baking tray and chill for at least an hour, if not more. When you’re ready to cook them in the butter-sage sauce, you want them to be cold so they retain their shape.

Heat a large potful of salted water and boil 6 gnocchi until they float, the remove and repeat until all the gnocchi are cooked.

Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet until it starts to sizzle. Fry 6-7 cooked gnocchi until they brown nicely on either side, and again, repeat until all the gnocchi are fried.

Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp, roughly 20-30 seconds. Don’t let them burn. Remove and set aside.

Pour the butter-sage sauce over the gnocchi and sprinkle over a generous handful of the Parmesan cheese.

A wonderful dish! Warming, hearty and the flavor of pumpkin goes deliciously with the sage and Parmesan. My gnocchi were a bit stodgy, but I imagine with practice, that will improve. A keeper……..if only Vincent Corleone were the one showing me how to roll out the gnocchi, I’ve no doubt they’d be perfect. Or burned. 🙂

24 thoughts on “Food in Films – The Godfather Part III

    1. I’m sure you could. I often find that kids will eat the food they actually help prepare. It worked with my nephew when he was small and now that he’s in college, he is very capable of cooking simple things for himself, because I always had him help me cook. So give it a try!

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    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you saying that. I was a little intimidated myself but for me, the key in anything is just do it with enthusiasm and try it. Your first batch probably won’t come out perfect, because this batch certainly didn’t, but it tasted good and it’s doing it that counts. You’ll have to let me know how your gnocchi turn out. Good luck!

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  1. Mmmm… Your gnocchi looks delicious! And, you’re right… Godfather III has nothing in the other 2. 😉😂 (I know that’s not what you said at all… Well, sort of… Lmao!) this has made me want to watch the Godfather movies again! It’s been quite a long time for me!

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  2. I appreciate the compliment. Thank you! I have not heard of that film but I will check it out next time I am streaming movies. And thank you for your very kind words about my writing. It means so much to hear you say that!

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  3. That looks amazing! Sort of related… I just watched “The Kitchen” with Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish & Elisabeth Moss and boy did I have some weird dreams! Have you seen it yet? It’s for rent on Amazon.
    Also, you should write a book. Seriously, I love reading your posts!

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  4. …I admit to have never seen the movie, though for whatever reason, likely as others, while clicking through the 2051 channels on the TV screen, the last part sometimes seems the visually least unsatisfying thing to watch, cannoli, oranges and all. (I’m a bit in disagreement with you on the efficacy at the end, the silent sort of Learean howl. If acted well – Pacino simply didn’t give it much, to me – it could have been marvelous, even as written. Maybe a Bruno Ganz sort could have added a depth and life, who knows.) But… the circumstances do, as more than a few of the thematics of the series, hit close to home, or literally close to family. Just when you think… things are new, all the work, effectively, and sacrifice and bending and stretching yourself beyond… what should seem possible, they, the way things function, pull you back in. Unless you leave the story. Original sin. Anyway…
    Thursdays, usually, are gnocchi night…. pumpkin sometimes, as well….

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    1. I actually loved the visuals of the film. That was probably my favorite aspect of it, in addition to the whole forbidden love thing. The deep oranges and golds, the reds and blacks and violets, such a dazzling and deep color palette. I mean, the whole concept of redemption is the key theme throughout the trilogy, and perhaps it was somewhat ham-fisted in the third film. But…..talk about the intense family dynamic on display here. We all have dysfunction in our families, and I loved how it was portrayed in this particular film………Michael’s chickens certainly came home to roost at the end. I’m glad you liked the post.

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  5. Oh my, this looks amazing! I love sage in brown butter and the thought of pumpkin-flavored gnocchi is making me drool right now. I was never much into any of the Godfather films, though my husband adores them. I’ll have to show him this. He always said that the 3rd film was not as bad as it was made out to be. It’s good to know there is corroboration. Thanks for sharing thi, Vanessa. Your blog just gets better and better!

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    1. Thanks, Marianne! I really appreciate that. I really think this film is underrated. People just got so hyped on Sofia Coppola’s performance that they judged the film based on that. I admit it is not at the same level as the first two, but I stand by my assessment that the third film is excellent in its own way. Tell your husband he’s not alone! 🙂

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